Why Do Spinning Reels Have an Anti-reverse?

By January 19, 2020 No Comments

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Anti-reverse is a common feature on many spinning reels. The purpose is to keep anglers from accidentally reeling backwards, and letting out line when they intend to bring it in. An anti-reverse switch gives anglers the option to turn off this feature, so they can back reel, a technique typically used to play larger fish on light line.

Back Reeling or “How to Land Big Fish On Light Line”

In the days before we had really good drag systems on spinning reels “back reeling” was one of the best ways to keep a fish from breaking off.  The technique is exactly what it sounds like. While fighting a fish, the angler disengages the anti-reverse and reels backwards. This releases line and allows the angler to control the amount of tension on the line.

Early drags were pretty rough. And many anglers learned to back reel out of necessity, and I would guess that many people still using it regularly got used to the technique back in the “good old days.” Back reeling may seem old fashioned or irrelevant for many anglers but there are still times where the technique is beneficial.

When fishing really light line(4lb-6lb) it is easy to lose fish if you hook into something larger than normal. Back reeling is one of the few ways keep from breaking line in these situation. Today’s drags are really good, but when using such light line this isn’t always enough. Back reeling is used in unison with the drag(it doesn’t turn off when you use the anti-reverse). Though you can usually react more quickly than your drag when a fish makes a run. If you ever feel like your line is reaching the breaking point reeling backwards will ease tension and help you play the fish.

It takes a little time to get used to the technique but not long. You should be able to pick it up in a couple of trips if you give some reel practice. I will mention that until you get used to it you may lose fish if you accidentally start giving a fish slack line.

Tips For Using the Anti-Reverse Feature

Leave it Engaged Until You Hook the Fish

It is too easy to accidentally reel the wrong direction when setting the hook, so make sure you don’t turn off the anti-reverse until you’ve set the hook. If the fish is too big for your line, flip the switch.

Learn to Manage Line Tension

You may not need the anti-reverse if you understand the other ways to manage line tension. Knowing how to set drag is the most important place to start.

Here’s a Video Explaining the Process:

The second way is simply to raise or lower your rod. This one is a little simpler. Up will mean more tension down will mean less.

Learn to Take Care of Your Line or It Won’t Matter

Back reeling may not help you much if you don’t learn how to take care or your line. You will rely on this technique with light line, so you should keep in mind how prone it is to damage. If you allow weak points in your line from improper care it has a good chance of breaking no matter what you do.

Here is a really great article from wired2fish:

Common Problems with The Anti-Reverse Switch

Saltwater can be hard on fishing reels and anti-reverse switches have a history of causing reel failure in these environments. For this reason some saltwater reels have eliminated the anti-reverse switch altogether. This was always a problem feature for early spinning reels but in the last 30 years this issue has been greatly reduced(at least for the freshwater folks). If you fish saltwater consider foregoing the anti-reverse option altogether, unless you have a good reason for using it.